Chapter 59

When Miso entered the auditorium, the club members all held conflicted expressions. They looked like they were excited to see the lady again, but at the same time, they looked scared of what they had coming for them.

“Instructor!”

“We thought you were busy with plays.”

They seemed more excited than anything though, seeing how they rushed over to see her. Miso grinned, explaining how the play she got involved in spiraled into a complete mess.

“And that’s why I came here to torture you kids for another half year. Nice, right?”

“Yes!”

“Wait, did you dye your hair, instructor?”

Miso’s previously blonde hair was now black.

“Well, just because.”

Miso answered the question passively, completely disregarding its relevance.

“Now now, we’re going to practice pretty much immediately, so you better be ready. I heard from Taesik that you’re going to change the play for this competition?”

“Yes. We wanted to try something new,” Yoonjung answered.

“Up for a challenge, huh? Nice. Was there a genre you were thinking of?”

“A comedy. We thought there’d be a lot to learn, since we didn’t even touch comedy the last time.”

“Comedy, huh? Those are usually challenging. Fine, there are a few of those for teenagers, so we might as well go with that.”

The atmosphere of the club came together once Miso appeared. Her loud voice had a power to gather people. Mesmerized by that voice, the passion and energy for acting came back to their eyes.

“You weren’t just playing around, were you?”

“Of course not.”

“We worked hard!”

Miso stepped into the middle of the auditorium with the students. The kids followed her like a bunch of baby ducks following their mother. Miso made a great center for the club.

Maru gave them a nod from the side. He was standing at a sweet spot where he couldn’t be seen, but still could hear everything clearly. A perfect spot. He glanced at Miso from behind Geunseok, and shot her a smile when their eyes met.

For a brief second, he saw Miso’s mouth curl up into a smile. She seemed to be telling him that she would get him this time around.

“Wait just a second. I have a few scripts for comedic plays in my car. You guys listen to the basic story and tell me which one you want. Maru, follow me.”

“Yes.”

Even before the break, Maru’s job was to lug things around every once in a while. The moment they stepped outside the auditorium, Miso started talking.

“What are you going to do? Planning on being the spectator this time, too?”

Maru nodded.

“Things are going to get awkward if I join in. I’ll just stay in the side making props or something.”

“Oh, so that’s how you’re going to do this, huh?”

Miso stepped down the stairs without saying another word. When they stepped out into the parking lot, they were greeted with Miso’s foreign car. Miso opened the trunk, revealing a cardboard box inside.

“What’s this?”

“Shirts.”

“Shirts?”

Maru opened the box, which was filled with black hoodies. The left breast of which had the words ‘Blue Sky’ embroidered in Chinese characters.

“I got inspiration from my theater’s shirts.”

Maru thought back at the black shirts the actors were wearing back at the Blue Sky theater.

“You basically just copied it.”

“Eh, copy, inspiration, same thing. It’s good though, right?”

“It’s nice. The kids should like this.”

“You?”

“Another casual clothing for my collection. This’ll be nice.”

“It’s expensive, don’t just treat it like something casual. Now, now, you go up first. I have to find the scripts.”

“Yes.”

Maru stepped up to the fifth floor with the box. Were these shirts were Miso’s way of apologizing to the club? After all, she thought the club failing in their first competition was her fault. He had heard something about her apologizing to the club last time they met, but perhaps she still felt a bit sorry inside.

“Take whichever one that fits you.”

Maru put the box in front of Joonghyuk. The club members all shouted in excitement when they noticed what was inside. They all took off their old gym clothes and put on their new uniforms.

“Wow, fits perfectly.”

“Mine’s a bit loose, I think I like this better.”

“Same.”

“It even has words on the back!”

The twelve of them all found shirts that fit them. They fit pretty well.

“They look good on you,” Miso noted, stepping into the auditorium.

“Thank you!”

“We’ll treasure it!”

The club members answered, still fixated on their new clothes. Maru put a hand over his jersey. It had a decent thickness to it. The material was high quality, and the embroidery looked pretty beautiful. This had to be expensive.

“Nice, you look good in those uniforms. Don’t cause any accidents while wearing those, though, you hear?”

“Yes!”

“Now now, get over here. If we want to participate in the October competition and then the December one, we need to work really hard.”

“October?”

“We’re going to participate at the one hosted by Gyeongi province. And then we can participate in the winter one. We didn’t get anything for the competition in spring, so might as well try everything we can get our hands on during this semester. Understood?”

She didn’t look like she was open to any opposition. A competition in October, and then one in December… It didn’t look too bad on paper. Maru nodded to himself. This was very much like Miso.

Miso threw two scripts down on the floor.

‘Critical Mass’ and ‘The People of Dalseok-dong’.

“Choose one you want to do. Critical Mass is about what would happen if someone wins it big-time in a lottery, and The People of Dalseok-dong is about what happens when a strange family moves into Dalseok-dong. They’re both fun, but remember. Comedies are hard. The entire mood of the audience can change with a snap of a finger. A lot of the plays heavily depend on an actor’s skill. I mean, there’s a reason why comedies don’t do all that well in teen competitions.”

Miso’s voice fell heavily. A few of the members even moaned a little after hearing about the reason why comedies flopped. They must be thinking of the past.

“What the hell’s up with those faces? Are you scared?”

“......”

“I was the one at fault last time. You guys didn’t do anything wrong. You know, I was so mad that time that I couldn’t even sleep. How were you guys? Did you sleep well after that?”

Everyone shook their heads.

“That’s why we’re going to really show it to those judges this time. We’re going to show them how great we are. If you think about it a little differently, a comedy is a great opportunity to just crush everyone else. That’s exactly what’s going to happen this time.”

Miso gave the two scripts over to the group. The person who grabbed hold of it was Yoonjung. The play she grabbed was Critical Mass. Joonghyuk stepped forward to grab The People of Dalseok-dong.

After scanning the script, the two of them exchanged it. The auditorium was filled with the noise of flipping paper. The two club leaders never looked more serious than this moment. They then handed off their scripts over to the rest of the club, who started reading the script as well.

Soon, the scripts came over to Maru. Maru felt the gaze of Miso on him, along with the gazes of the club members. He brought the script over to Miso.

“Looks like they made their decision.”

“Aren’t you going to read it?”

“Is there really a need?”

“I think you’ll have to.”

“What?”

Miso looked like she just fished something big out of the waters. Maru turned the page of the two scripts. He saw the titles, the synopsis that Miso wrote, and…

The characters.

“Fifteen, sixteen...”

There were a total of twelve members in the club. Significantly less than the number of characters in the play.

“You can at least play the role of a passerby, can’t you?”

“So this is how you’re going to do this?”

“What, you can’t? This isn’t going to take much time. Come on, just a few lines?”

“You know I can’t invest that much time into the club.”

“Doesn’t matter. You’ll get it quick.”

Maru glanced behind him. A few of the students looked excited, a few annoyed, and a few disinterested.

“Can I join?”

The question was directed at the members.

“Of course! We’d be happy!”

Yoonjung was the first to answer. As a matter of fact, all of the second years seemed pretty excited about the prospect. Maru turned to the first years.

“Do what you want. I don’t care.”

“Don’t care!”

Taejoon and Iseul seemed to be neutral.

“Well… I’m sure he’ll make a good decision.”

“Hmph!”

Geunseok and Yurim were sending signals for him to not participate. And…

“I’ll teach you acting, son!”

“Join us.”

“Do it.”

Dojin, Daemyung and Soyeon didn’t even hesitate. Maru turned back to look at Miso.

“I know you drew a line, but you can still participate at least a little, can’t you?” Miso whispered with a wink.

She was being persistent, but not enough to be annoying. It was kind of as if she was asking him for a small favor. Maru was sure that even if he refused her here, she wouldn’t be too disappointed. She’d probably find a different way to make him join.

‘Toge...ther.’

Maru had made up his mind to switch clubs after this year. It wasn’t like he was sick of acting, but he wanted to get a different experience altogether. Helping out Soojin was enough in terms of doing acting. He was actually thinking of joining the Chinese Language club, actually. The prospect of learning Chinese sounded pretty good to him.

‘I’m going to switch clubs anyway, so...’

MIght as well spend the next half year with a little more effort for the club.

“Please treat me well, then.”

“No way, I’ll flipping murder you if you do badly. I won’t hold you for long during practice, though. You’re going to be an extra anyway, hehe.”

Miso grinned toothily, seeming happy with the fact that she managed to snag him into participating. Maru sighed inwardly in relief. Refusing the woman so much did seem to have a bit of an impact on him. Accepting her request just this once made him feel a whole lot better.

“Alright! The whole club’s going to be in on this play! Let’s choose which one we want to do then, shall we? Raise your hand if you like the play I call out. We’re going to go democratic here. Starting off, Critical Mass!”

Miso’s voice seemed to have a little more vibrancy than usual, for some reason.

* * *

Maru took out his script the first thing he came back home. It was The People of Dalseok-dong. Funnily enough, everyone in the club decided to go with this one, including him.

‘Maybe Miso had a pretty good grasp on what the other kids liked already.’

Leaders needed to know the people they lead. And according to Miso herself, she had an eye for people. As proof, twelve students in the club all chose one play. This couldn’t just be coincidence.

“A teen, huh.”

The character had no name and was never called out by anyone else either. He was just… a teenager. That was the character Maru was in charge of. He had very few lines, too. Just three. But he would appear in up to five scenes. He was supposed to be one of those passersby who would look at a situation and shout ‘Eh?!’ and disappear.

Basically, a part of the environment. A character that wouldn’t take anything away from the play even if he was removed completely. At least, that’s how Maru saw the character.

* * *

“Yes!”

Miso jumped up with a fist in the sky. Taesik had to ask the woman why she was so happy. Her happiness almost seemed infectious, seeing by the smile on the man’s face.

“He took the bait so well.”

“Bait?”

“Oh, I’m talking about Maru. He has no idea what kind of a character he’s gotten in charge of. Oh boy oh boy, I’m so excited.”

“Is it really that exciting?”

“Of course! I bet he thinks his role is completely useless. Alright, step one of my plan is done, and as long as I do this well, then… Hehehe.”

Taesik couldn’t help but swallow nervously. Miso was generally a good person, but she did have her devilish moments. When her mind was made up, then she really looked like a determined general.

“By the way, oppa.”

“Y-Yes?”

Taesik stepped back, intimidated by the woman’s energy.

“Can’t you at least try to be more casual?”

“Ah, yes. Of course.”

“Ugh!”

Taesik hugged Miso, and looked at the bartender with an awkward smile.

“Good times,” the old bartender commented with a hearty laugh.

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